Quotes & Gaffes

Issue 41 - February-March 2013

Go for an ‘Inchshort’?

“‘Subway Footlong' is a registered trademark as a descriptive name for the sub sold in Subway Restaurants and not intended to be a measurement of length.” – Subway Australia’s response when a customer posted a photo on its Facebook page showing that the “Footlong” sandwich was at least an inch too short.

Issue 40 - November-December 2012

Thinking ahead

"We won't fight it because we need the savings as well [if elected to government]." – A federal Coalition MP, quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald on the Labor government's mid-year budget.

Issue 39 - May-July 2012

Record success

“... fiscal year 2011 was a record-setting year at just over 30 billion [dollars]. This fiscal year will be at least 70 percent greater.” – Andrew J. Shapiro, a US assistant secretary of state, on US government arms sales.

Issue 38 - February-April 2012

For real conservatives, no first time for anything

“Things like this don’t happen once if they didn’t happen before.” – US Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, on reports that Secret Service agents assigned to protect the US president when he was in Colombia spent their time with sex workers.

Issue 37 - December-January 2012


“It is reasonable to ask whether the people of Iraq will notice any change.” – US Congressman Dennis Kucinich on President Obama’s pledge to withdraw troops from Iraq but leave thousands of armed contractors and State Department employees.

Issue 36 - October-November 2011

Nothing has happened until we say so

“Just because something is in the public domain doesn’t mean it’s been officially released or declassified by the US government.” – Jennifer Youngblood, a spokesperson for the CIA, trying to explain why the CIA censored, from a book about 9/11, commonly available information, including the author’s testimony to a US Senate committee.

Issue 35 - September 2011

Limited comprehension

“This goes beyond our comprehension.” US Democrat member of Congress John Tierney of Massachusetts, commenting on an investigation that found that half the contractors moving supplies for the US military in Afghanistan were paying protection money to the Taliban.

Issue 34 - August 2011


“When we hear ourselves being called occupiers and worse, our pride is offended and we begin to lose our inspiration to carry on.” – Karl Eidenberry, US ambassador to Afghanistan.

Issue 33 - June-July 2011

Managing profits

“There will be impacts. But everything is monitored so we can manage it well ahead of time if there is any impact.” Ross Dunn, Queensland coal seam gas manager for the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, responding to concerns about environmental damage from coal seam gas mining.

Issue 32 - May 2011

Quiet diplomacy

“The new American ambassador in Damascus, Robert Ford, has been quietly reaching out to Mr. [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad to urge him to stop firing on his people.” – New York Times, March 26.

Issue 31 - April 2011

Not retreating

“People say, ‘You are coming out of the Pech’; I prefer to look at it as realigning to provide better security for the Afghan people.” – Major General John F. Campbell, the US commander for eastern Afghanistan, on US forces withdrawing from the Pech Valley, where they have been trying to establish control since 2003.

Issue 30 - March 2011

Interest of who?

“All options should be on the table. Surely you’ve got to get in and protect the interests of the state.” – Mike Baird, likely to be the next NSW treasurer if the Liberals win the March election, on bailing out the private-public corporation that is making a mess of producing new train carriages.

Issue 29 - February 2011

Never ever

“We will never seek to weaken our currency as a tool to gain competitive advantage or grow the economy.” – Timothy Geithner, US Treasury secretary, defending the Obama administration’s policy of weakening the dollar to stimulate the economy and make US exports more competitive.

Issue 28 - November-December 2010

McDonald’s School of Nutrition? BP Environmental Sciences?

“Many years ago, working with industry was not the done thing; now everyone is doing it.” – University of NSW vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer, announcing that the university will give naming rights of schools or faculties to big donors.

Issue 27 - October 2010

Perfectly normal

“What is wrong with this? I borrowed money from the bank and made an investment.” – Mahmoud Karzai, brother of the Afghan president, who borrowed money from the shaky Kabul Bank, used it to become a shareholder of the bank, then borrowed from the bank for a profitable property transaction in Dubai.

Issue 26 - September 2010


“I think the message from the Australian people is they do want to see a change to the way politics is conducted.” – Julia Gillard.


“We should be ashamed of the way we led the country.” – Iraqi Vice-President Adel Abdul Mahdi.

Issue 25 - August 2010


“It’s the sort of radical proposal that often comes up in these sort of reports that goes too far.” – John Brogden, chief executive of the finance industry’s lobby group, on the Cooper review’s proposal that the finance industry should take less of our superannuation.

Issue 24 - July 2010

But expect more

“America has never experienced an event like this before.” – US President Barack Obama on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

More equal than you

“The US is a big and important market for BP, and BP is also a big and important company for the US.” – BP chairperson Carl-Henric Svanberg.

Issue 23 - June 2010


“He says the most appalling things and can’t understand why people get upset. He has no empathy. He’s got narcissistic personality disorder.” – Former Liberal Party leader Brendan Nelson on Malcolm Turnbull, his successor as Liberal Party leader.

Issue 21 - April 2010

Finance made easy

“It’s like buying fire insurance on your neighbor’s house – you create an incentive to burn down the house.” – A German finance expert, quoted in the February 25 New York Times, explaining the financial derivative known as credit-default swaps.

Issue 20 - March 2010

And it cost only $1.9 billion

“Quite obviously chlorinated … on the nose, with an interesting texture … a little bit oilier in the mouth and a little bit of pucker, almost like you find with tannin in wine.” – Wine taster Peter Bourne, commenting on a blind tasting of water from the NSW government’s new desalination plant.

Issue 19 - February 2010

Notre Dame to be demolished?

“... all believers, regardless of their faith, must refrain from ostentation and provocation and … practise their religion in humble discretion.” – French President Nicolas Sarkozy, writing in Le Monde in defence of the Swiss referendum that banned construction of minarets.

Issue 18 - December 2009

To the shareholders

“... a year ago a lot of these [banks] were teetering on the brink, and the United States government and taxpayers came to their defence. They have responsibilities, and they ought to meet those responsibilities.” – David Axelrod, a senior adviser to US President Barack Obama, on bonuses being paid to bank executives.

Issue 17 - November 2009


“Disappointing.” – A spokesperson for federal energy minister Martin Ferguson commenting on October 15 on the failure of the PTTEP drilling company to stop an oil leak off the north-west coast that has been emitting at least 400 barrels of petroleum a day since August 24.

Issue 16 - October 2009

Unlikely ambition

“We must be part of the solution. We can’t just be part of the problem.” – Federal Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull.